A gentle tribute to the power of nature to help regulate difficult feelings.

THE UGLY PLACE

Wearing a red hoodie and a big frown, a child in a foul mood walks through miserable weather on their way to the ugly place.

The ugly place is where the protagonist goes when “things seem ugly and cloudy in my head and I feel a lot of feelings all at once.” The blues and grays of the accompanying landscapes feel wet and dreary, while inanimate objects look on frowning, their expressions echoing the child’s. The light brown–skinned child slops through the rain and mud, leaving a mucky trail across the wet tundra, to the rocky coast where even the fish in the water frown back. When the child finally looks up, however, they notice the sea gulls overhead, the gentle lapping of waves, and the taste of dried salt on their lips. And just like that, a smile appears on the child’s face as well as on the creatures’ in the water. The rain stops, and nature is now welcoming in its beauty. Text and images work together deftly, using sensory descriptions to evoke both the miserable mood and its transformation. Though this transition from inner turmoil to outer peace comes a bit quickly, the meaning is nevertheless clear: Nature heals the heart. And this child knows it. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gentle tribute to the power of nature to help regulate difficult feelings. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-77227-432-5

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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Sweet, good-hearted fun.

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THE SOUR GRAPE

From the Food Group series

A recovering curmudgeon narrates life lessons in the latest entry in the punny Food Group series.

Grape wasn’t always sour, as they explain in this origin story. Grape’s arc starts with an idyllic childhood within “a close-knit bunch” in a community of “about three thousand.” The sweet-to-sour switch begins when Grape plans an elaborate birthday party to which no one shows up. Going from “sweet” to “bitter,” “snappy,” and, finally, “sour,” Grape “scowled so much that my face got all squishy.” Minor grudges become major. An aha moment occurs when a run of bad luck makes Grape three hours late for a meetup with best friend Lenny, who’s just as acidic as Grape. After the irate lemon storms off, Grape recognizes their own behavior in Lenny. Alone, Grape begins to enjoy the charms of a lovely evening. Once home, the fruit browses through a box of memorabilia, discovering that the old birthday party invitation provided the wrong date! “I realized nobody’s perfect. Not even me.” Remaining pages reverse the downturn as Grape observes that minor setbacks are easily weathered when the emphasis is on talking, listening, and working things out. Oswald’s signature illustrations depict Grape and company with big eyes and tiny limbs. The best sight gag occurs early: Grape’s grandparents are depicted as elegant raisins. The lessons are as valuable as in previous outings, and kids won’t mind the slight preachiness. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, good-hearted fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-304541-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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